I like John Chrysostom’s homilies. I like them even when he attempts the impossible, namely to make the biblical text say what it cannot say.

I have been reading his homilies on Galatians and I much admire his eloquence. But sometimes his rhetoric gets the better of him. Perhaps these lapses are due to a genuine concern for his Christian brothers with a weak conscience, those listeners who could not stomach the harder places of the Bible.

Trying to exculpate Peter from the accusation that he had caved in under the pressure of his fellow Jewish believers, John Chrysostom construes the Antioch incident as an oikonomia or a schema. Put otherwise, in more plain terms, John Chrysostom thinks that what happened at Antioch was simply an arrangement, a pious show enacted for the benefit of the Gentile believers.

The preacher does his best to deploy various arguments, but in the end his logic fails him.

Read this and see if you can figure it out on your own.


Observe too Paul’s careful choice of expressions, whereby he points out to the discerning, that he uses them in pursuance of the plan, (οικονομίας) and not from anger.

His words are, “When Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned;” that is, not by me but by others; had Paul himself condemned him, he would not have shrunk from saying so. And the words, “I resisted him to the face,” imply a scheme for had their discussion been real, they would not have rebuked each other in the presence of the disciples, for it would have been a great stumbling block to them.